Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Brilliant hoax?

You would think that having a book exposed in the New York Times as hoax on the eve of Frankfurt would put paid to any rights deals. Not in the case of Rohan Kriwaczek’s An Incomplete History of the Art of the Funerary Violin. Seemingly an innocent and well-researched work of scholarship about a particular musical tradition born in the Middle Ages, the book is handicapped by one small detail— apparently there’s no such thing as the art of the funerary violin! Such a minor detail didn’t discourage Scribe Publication’s acquisitive Henry Rosenbloom from snapping up this eccentric work from its UK publisher, Gerald Duckworth & Co. It was a book, Rosenbloom enthused, that showed ‘how elusive facts and truth are … if it’s a hoax, it’s a brilliant, brilliant hoax.’ The book’s eccentric author is doing his best to muddy the waters further. In response to questions relating to the book’s authenticity from concerned Duckworth publisher, Peter Mayer, he apparently said: ‘Some [questions] I can’t answer, Mr Mayer, because it is a secret society and it is dying out.’

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